South African Gary Player was born in Johannesburg on November 1, 1935. His main nickname as a professional golfer is "Black Knight" because of his always black sportswear.
Player was born the last of three children. His father Harry worked as a captain in a gold mine. When Gary Player was eight years old, his mother Muriel died of cancer.
He didn't start playing golf until he was 14. In 1953, at the age of 17, he made golf his profession.
In January 1957, he married Vivienne, with whom he has six children. Player defended apartheid in South Africa for many years, but later distanced himself from his earlier stance.
When he accepted the Presidential Medal of Freedom from the hands of U.S. President Donald Trump on Jan. 7, 2021, the day after storming the Capitol in Washington, he was publicly criticized for it by his eldest son Marc, among others.
Player entered the North American PGA Tour in the late 1950s, won the money ranking in 1961 and collected a total of 24 victories there.
But he also played around the world with great success, traveling more than 22 million miles and winning more than 160 tournaments, including nine majors, as well as many prestigious trophies in (record) series.
Gary Player is the only golfer of the 20th century to win the Open Championship in three different decades (1959, 1968 and 1974). In 1998, he broke Sam Snead's record when he became the oldest player ever to make the cut at the Masters.
From 1955 to 1982, Player managed at least one international tournament victory in every year; he won the World Match Play title five times, the Australian Open seven times, the South African Open thirteen times and the South African Masters twelve times.
He is also the only golfer ever to score a round under 60 - a 59 - in a professionally held National Open, which happened at the Brazilian Open in 1974.
As a South African, Player was denied the opportunity to compete in the Ryder Cup. He was too old to play in the newly created Presidents Cup, but at least he was captain in 2003 and 2005.
Since 1985 Gary Player has also played on the Champions Tour as a senior, won his first tournament in the same year, was always among the top 10 in the money rankings until 1990 and won 6 senior majors. Together with the 3 Senior British Open titles, which are part of the European Seniors Tour, Player has also won 9 majors as a senior.
In addition to golf, Gary Player - like some of his colleagues - is also involved in golf course design. His portfolio includes more than 300 projects around the globe. Away from golf, Gary Player supports the education of children and young people and the construction of schools worldwide with his foundation, The Player Foundation.
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